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intage Harp Guitar Photographs, 
Postcards, Cabinet Cards, Advertising & Ephemera

Unidentified American Instruments


From The Cadenza, 1901. I can't quite tell how many necks or headstocks this one has! From The Cadenza, year unknown
This is an interesting instrument. Note the star in the bass headstock. Not quite like any known instruments in the Form galleries Hard to say on this low res image. Is the image reversed or not?!

These look home-made, but are featured in The Knutsen Archives because of the obvious influences

Peru, 1931
Could this possibly be Knutsen-influenced as well?

Two images of the Stevens Institute of Technology Mandolin Club in 1898. What a strange sub-bass neck!

Another mandolin club from 1899 with an unidentified harp guitar that bears some similarity to one of the strange Washburns on the Identified American Iconography page

Minneapolis, 1897 mandolin club with another unique harp guitar Another unique instrument

Unknown American mandolin club with a very European-looking harp guitar (that was likely built in America).  The headstock looks like those of Sweden's Selling!
The Mystic Mandolin Club, Creston IA, 1896
Another completely unique American harp guitar
The 6-string guitar is an early Bohmann, and we think it likely the harp guitar may be also

The Washburn Lyre guitar does not belong on this page, of course. But look at the one on the right. Royce & Lansing Musical Comedy Company, from a Washburn catalog - presumably, most of the instruments are Washburns. The strange harp guitar, however, looks Italian to me. There is nothing quite like it in the Galleries.

This unusual non-standard "Schrammel" guitar definitely looks American. See Form 2a Gallery - I see a Dahlman-like bridge, Benoit Meulle-Stef sees a Larson-style bridge. Anyone else? 

The image at left and the two below are from "Mandolins, Like Salami" by Sheri Mignano Crawford, courtesy of the author. The 2005 book contains personal stories about Italian mandolin orchestras in San Francisco - rare glimpses into the groups and their members. Available from www.zighibaci.com

For example, one Salvatore de Natale shows up in 1920 with a unique harp guitar, likely made by an Italian-American. He is still playing it in 1937 and 1938 in The Aurora Mandolin Orchestra. One other example by this unknown luthier is shown here.

The Ideal Mandolin Club, from The Cadenza, Sept, 1920

Aurora Mandolin Orchestra, Palace of Fine Arts, San Francisco, 1937 Aurora Mandolin Orchestra, Fugazi Hall, North Beach, San Francisco, 1938
This unknown harp guitar reminds me somewhat of the previous Italian-made instrument. There is nothing quite like it in any of the Galleries.

This great image is of King Oliver's Orchestra, New York, March 1931. The harp guitarist is Ernest Meyers. He doesn't appear to be present on any of the many recordings listed. This is from a fantastic resource site of rare information and 78 recording downloads - The Red Hot Jazz Archive.

Kalama's Quartet, featuring Bob Nawahine on harp-guitar. This specimen eluded me until mid-2008, when a very similar Oscar Schmidt instrument turned up (in Gallery Form 2c) - so that's my vote.

A cryptic view of a unique harp guitar specimen from an American (?) parlor

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